UNESCO asks Italy to limit access of cruise ships to Venice after Costa Concordia disaster
The Daily Mail Online
By Nick Pisa
UNESCO has asked the Italian government to limit the access of cruise ships to the World Heritage Site of Venice following the Costa Concordia disaster.
Experts already fear that the wash from the giant ships as they pass the edge of the Grand Canal is eroding the fragile canal banks that crisscross the city and dwarf the historic palazzos and churches of the lagoon city.
Port authority officials say that more than 300 ships a year stop in Venice bringing in almost two million passengers a year, but there are growing calls for restrictions on where they can sail in the city.
In a statement Paris-based UNESCO said it had written to Italy's environment minister Corrado Clini, following the Concordia disaster, saying the 'tragic accident reinforces longstanding concern over the risk that large cruise liners pose to sites inscribed on UNESCO's World Heritage List, particularly the Venice Lagoon and the Basin of San Marco.'
It added that it had called on the Italian government 'to restrict access of large ships to culturally and ecologically important areas, particularly Venice and its lagoon which are visited by some 300 large cruise ships a year.'
UNESCO stressed cruise liner traffic in Venice is 'particularly damaging because of the fragile structure of the city'.
'The ships cause water tides that erode the foundations of buildings. They contribute to pollution and impact the cityscape as they dwarf monuments in the heart of the city,' it added.
The website for the Venice Maritime Station says that an amazing 629 cruise ships passed through the city last year.
Venice mayor Giorgio Orsoni is also keen to tackle the problem and recently labelled cruise ships the 'juggernauts of the sea'.
He is currently in talks with the port authority to have the main terminals moved to the mainland and take the ships away from the heart of the city.
One route being considered would see ships avoiding passing in front of historic St Mark's Square and moving to a new purpose built maritime station at Malamocco.